Headline: Parents and Adult Fans: The Biggest Challenge Facing High School Sports
By Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School
Associations and Bobby Cox, Commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic
Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events in Indiana has reached
When more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked in a recent national
survey what they like least about their job, 62.3% said it was “dealing with aggressive
parents and adult fans.”
And the men and women who wear the black and white stripes agree. In fact, almost
80% of officials quit after the first two years on the job, and unruly parents are cited as
the reason why. As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in
Indiana, and in some sports like wrestling, swimming, and track and field, the shortage
is severe. No officials means no more games.
If you are a parent attending a high school athletic event this fall, you can help by
following these six guidelines:
1. Act Your Age. You are, after all, an adult. Act in a way that makes your family and
2.Don’t Live Your Life Vicariously Through Your Children. High school sports
are for them, not you. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your
children perform on the field of play.
3.Let Your Children Talk to the Coach Instead of You Doing It for Them. High
school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable,
but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them.
4. Stay in Your Own Lane. No coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your
role is to be a responsible, supportive parent—not a coach or official.
5.Remember, Participating in a High School Sport Is Not About Getting
a College Scholarship. According to the NCAA, only about 2% of all high
school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the total value of the
scholarship is only about $18,000.
6. Make Sure Your Children Know You Love Watching Them Play. Do not
critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school
sports is about character development, learning and having fun—not winning
Purchasing a ticket to a high school athletic event does not give you the right to
be rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud, but be
responsible and respectful. The future of high school sports in Indiana is dependent
In addition to Executive Director Niehoff and Commissioner Cox's statement, the
LHS Athletic Department would like to remind all our school community members
that playing athletics for Lawrenceburg High School is a privilege, not a right for
the student athletes. As representatives of our school we hold them to a higher
standard of discipline and accountability than the average student.
We also would like to remind fans of our sportsmanship statement for our Athletic
Department, student-athletes, parents, and all fans attending our contests.
Good sportsmanship between athletes, coaches, game officials, opposing teams,
and spectators is one of the most important parts of high school athletics.
Judgment calls made by officials, coaches, and student athletes are made in good
faith and should be respected. Spectators are encouraged to support your team,
but asked to refrain from making inappropriate comments or cheers during games.
Lawrenceburg High School hopes you will enjoy the game and show positive support
for all student athletes. Please remember that good sportsmanship creates winners for
We thank TigerNation for reading this op-ed and look forward to seeing our adult fans
model the traits pointed out in this op-ed in the future.